In memoriam: Distinguished fellow Warren Bennis, 89

The staff and board of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy mourn the passing of advisory board member and distinguished fellow Warren Bennis. A true pioneer who helped found the field of leadership studies, Bennis was part of CCLP from the very beginning, sharing his wisdom, guidance and insights at several gatherings. We are profoundly grateful for Dr. Bennis's support and enthusiasm for CCLP's work, and his countless contributions as a scholar, strategist and leader over nearly four decades at USC. The university has published an obituary highlighting Bennis's achievements, as has The New York Times,…

Trained Incapacity: The Rise of Specialized Master’s Degrees

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. "Generalist species is able to thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and can make use of a variety of different resources. A specialist species can only survive in a narrow range of environmental conditions." – Warren Bennis When I was president of the University of Cincinnati in the 1970s, the dean of the medical school poignantly remarked that the only generalist he could find at the hospital or in the faculty was the patient. That irony has come to mind frequently in the past year or so when I…

Business Leaders on the Silver Screen

Robert Redford, center, stars in the 1972 film "The Candidate" This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Thanksgiving is Hollywood's Holiday, when the cinema capital of the world releases its very best films as close to the end of the year as possible. And for two very good reasons. The first is obvious: There's just so much turkey or family you can eat or take, so what else is there to do? The second is more serious, recency: getting the best nominees released as close as possible to the Academy Awards' votes for the year's best films. In…

USC Marshall’s ‘Passport to the World’

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. As I'm writing this on the West Coast at 11 p.m., Oct. 11, three top administrators from the University of Southern California–Provost Elizabeth Garrett; James Ellis, dean of the Marshall School of Business; and his vice dean for academic affairs, John Matsusaka–are in Milan wrapping up an agreement with their counterparts at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Bocconi University. These three universities are collaborating to launch a three-continent degree program that will take students from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Milan. They've formed a partnership…

For Business Leaders (and MBAs), Character Counts

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Robert J. Thomas and I met in early fall of 1999 determined to write a book about how generational differences could impact leadership behavior. Would successful young leaders, 30 years old–raised after the Depression and World War II–hold divergent attitudes and values that would distinguish them from successful leaders 40 to 60 years older? The next three years were an odyssey full of fun, frustration, and surprises: identifying and interviewing terrific leaders in these two age groups who were willing to spend hours with us, videotaping included. We did pretty well…

Harvard's Bill George: A Model of 21st Century Leadership

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Last Saturday morning, Aug. 26, I called my old friend Bill George for two reasons, mainly to wish him a happy birthday on his 70th–I was two weeks early–and to discuss an unlikely article in that morning's Financial Times, "The Mind Business." It reported that some of the "west's biggest companies are embracing eastern spirituality as a path to bigger profits." Among them, General Mills (GIS), Google (GOOG), First Direct, Target (TGT), Aetna (AET), plus many Silicon Valley firms such as Facebook (FB), Twitter, and LinkedIn (LNKD) that share ideas on…

Mastering the Context

This blog first appeared on the Bloomberg Businessweek website. The Miller Analogies Test (MAT) has always intrigued me. It aims to measure analytic reasoning based on connecting two extreme and partial analogies. So the MAT question of today is: What do Plato (b. 428 BCE) and "Professor" Harold Hill, (b. 1957 in Meredith Wilson's Broadway hit, The Music Man) have in common? Class? … Class? … The envelope, please: "Ah, contextual intelligence!" Plato believed philosophers were the best rulers of the ship of state. "A pilot," he said, "must of necessity pay attention to the seasons, the heavens, the…